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 The Breker Trekker
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson is vice president of Marketing for Breker Verification Systems. He previously served as Product Management Group Director for Advanced Verification Solutions at Cadence, Technical Marketing Director in the Verification Group at Synopsys and Vice President of Applications Engineering at … More »

EDAC Expands Its Scope but Misses an Opportunity

April 13th, 2016 by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing

I expect that the activities of the EDA Consortium (EDAC), our industry’s main trade organization, are followed more closely by EDA vendors than users. However, some of you may have seen the recent publicity surrounding the organization’s name change to the Electronic System Design Alliance (ESDA). I applaud this move because it reflects the gradual but ongoing merger of EDA and embedded systems, a topic that we have covered here on The Breker Trekker in the past.

However, I do have two reservations about the specifics of the name change. First, as some people have pointed out, “ESD” is strongly associated with “electrostatic discharge” for us engineers who have worked on actual lab benches and not just in the world of abstract EDA models. But that’s a minor quibble as far as I’m concerned. My bigger issue is that EDAC did not use the name change as a chance to expand from “design” to “development” in its description of scope. Please continue reading as I expand a bit on all three of these points.

We have noted before that the traditional EDA world of hardware design is transforming to systems involving both hardware and software. One of the consequences is that the role of verification engineers involves more embedded software all the time. We’ve also noted that Breker, as The SoC Verification Company, lives right on the interface between the EDA and embedded worlds. Our current users come from both camps, and we expect to pull in even more programmers over time.

So it is natural for EDAC to expand its coverage to include more software and more embedded systems. This is entirely in line with other trends in the industry, such as Embedded TechCon co-locating with the Design Automation Conference (DAC). EDAC (and the EDA industry) has shown flexibility before when encompassing  semiconductor IP vendors more than a decade ago. A name change also acknowledges this aspect of an expanded role.

Perhaps the strongest argument for a re-boot of EDAC is the limited size of EDA as originally defined. Overall revenue has generally continued to grow, albeit modestly, but the number of EDA vendors has shrunk dramatically from the peaks during the 28 years that EDAC has existed. This is partly due to consolidation in a mature industry, but also due to the fact that the semiconductor market, our primary customers, is also going through a major consolidation.

EDA vendors are looking to expand into products targeted at programmers, a much larger potential pool of customers than historical EDA users, so EDAC should evolve to reflect this. Finally, as new EDAC/ESDA Executive Director Bob Smith notes, there are advanced packaging technologies that also fall outside of traditional EDA boundaries. So, for all of these reasons, a name change and expanded mission make sense. Bob will be great leader for the revitalized organization, and he threw a really nice launch party two weeks ago.

So why do I have reservations? When I first heard the new name, I immediately noticed the acronym overlap with electrostatic discharge but didn’t see it as a big deal. I do have to note, however, that the EOS/ESD Association already has the ESDA URL. So while mission confusion is unlikely, I’ll bet that I will find myself going to the wrong Web site more than once.

My real issue is my long-standing argument that “design” is not inclusive enough to describe the development of a complex electronic product. I first proposed more than three years ago that EDA be redefined as “electronic development automation” and that DAC be dubbed the “Development Automation Conference.” Most of Breker’s users are verification and validation engineers, and they do not consider themselves “designers” or their job to “design.” The same can be said for product engineers, system architects, programmers, test engineers, and others vital to electronic product development.

I also made this argument in one of my earliest blog posts for Breker. Since the industry didn’t exactly rise up in support I guess this is just a quixotic campaign on my part. But I can’t help wishing that EDAC had renamed itself the “Electronic System Development Alliance” as a first step toward acknowledging that the expanded scope of the organization and the EDA industry now includes even more people beyond hardware designers. I welcome your thoughts on this topic.

Tom A.

The truth is out there … sometimes it’s in a blog.

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4 Responses to “EDAC Expands Its Scope but Misses an Opportunity”

  1. Graham Bell says:

    Your readers will be glad to know that still works. So, they can continue to use that old acronym for getting to the web-site.

    Renaming a long standing organization is always a challenge and maybe even foolhardy.

    Back in the early 2000’s I went through the process to rename a startup EDA company. I came up with a list of 120 possible names. I rejected 100 of them because the .COM web-site name was unavailable. In the end I created a new 7-letter name that wasn’t in any dictionary. However it sounded similar to a word that meant ‘deviant’, so it wasn’t perfect.

    With regards to the ‘design’ versus ‘development’ dynamic, the following article on the Radio-Electronics web-site seems to use the terms interchangeably. Ian Poole, the author, is a Fellow of IET, has 20+ books published, and contributor to many professional electronics magazines, so I assume he know what he is talking about.

    Personally, I don’t think verification teams should feel slighted by the name, but I may be mistaken. Maybe we will have a panel discussion on the topic at the next DVCon.

    • Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing says:


      Thanks for the comment. I read the article to which you linked and found it rather confused. Sometimes it uses “design” and “development” as synonyms and sometimes not. Regardless, I completely acknowledge your point that some people use “design” to describe the complete product development process. I just think that “development” is a better, all-compassing term and so I’m arguing for it.

      Tom A.

  2. Sean Murphy says:

    It feels like they are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: the change seems fairly benign but fundamentally pointless. Perhaps it’s part of a Ghost Dance for return of a much younger EDA industry.

    • Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing says:


      To stretch your metaphor, perhaps EDA/EDAC/ESDA is lashing other ships (IP, embedded, software) alongside its original vessel in an attempt to form a bigger and more stable base. I do think that this is a sensible move given the state of the industry. Thanks for your comment.

      Tom A.

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